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The citizen’s role in ensuring a clean Zambia

HAVE you ever driven behind another vehicle (especially a minibus) and after a while, in full view of on-lookers, pedestrians and motorists, an empty juice or water bottle or some other rubbish is flung out through the window?
What was your reaction?  If you felt like impulsively stopping the vehicle and asking the responsible (irresponsible is more like it) person to get off the vehicle and pick up the dirt, you have the right attitude as a citizen.  I have often times wished I could stop the person throwing litter through the window, get a whip and whip them like a child.
One way or another, we are responsible for the litter that we see around us.  Some are responsible for throwing the litter and dirt in undesignated areas, some are responsible for pretending that they are not seeing the litter, others are responsible for failing to collect garbage and others are responsible for failing to provide facilities for the dumping or disposal of garbage. Then we have scavengers who sift through the dirt looking for ‘valuable’ items. And then we accept all this and do not take our local authorities and other relevant authorities to task.
Cleanliness is such a basic thing and should be simple and yet as we grow in population it appears to be a challenge at all levels of the national economy.  Our leaders should be praised for initiating the Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy Campaign but they need our support if they are going to successfully implement it otherwise the campaign will die in much the same way as the Make Zambia Clean Campaign that was launched in 2006, died.
It was rather embarassing to read about Secretary to Cabinet, Dr Roland Msiska’s disappointment regarding the mess that some civil servants leave in office toilets.  For Dr Msiska to say such a thing, it must mean that all other avenues have been tried and they have failed.
This brings to mind notices I see from time to time in offices and even some homes pleading with users to ensure they flush the toilet or wipe the toilet seat or leave the toilet in a state that they would like to find it.
I would like to believe that Dr Msiska was left with no choice but to voice out his disappointment and unfortunately for the civil servants this has been picked by the media and unfortunately for all of us, as Zambians, someone sitting outside Zambia has read about that and it therefore reflects badly on all of us.
Office toilets are used not by children but by parents.  If parents cannot leave the toilets that they use, in a clean state, how can they teach their children to keep toilets and other parts of the home clean?  Some things are embarassing but will have to be said if we are going to change behaviour.  We need to begin with personal hygiene before we can tackle environmental cleanliness. We need to also start cleaning our minds and sharing cleanliness ideas with each other.
By-laws that deal with hygiene will have to be tightened.  There must be a toll-free line to which cars with passengers throwing litter on the street can be reported.
Environmental cleanliness is something we should all aspire for and it is not something that should be left to just a few people to be responsible for.  Major campaigns to clean the environment may require a certain level of investment but there are many activities that can be done by different people without expending a lot of resource.  Let’s do this.